Sunday, September 11, 2005

The Slow Food Movement

‘Slow Food’, a non-profit organisation, aims to merge pleasure and food with responsibility and awareness on an international level. The slow food movement is essentially a response to the negative impact of the industrialization of food, hence the title ‘slow food’, a revolt against ‘fast food’. With a network of over 83,000 members the movement has taken off in over 100 countries.

Goals as stated by the Slow Food Organisation:

-To support the preservation of food and agricultural heritage and traditions.
-To defend biodiversity and conservation.
-To link producers with consumers and cooks.
- To collaborate with members and the wider community to achieve our purpose.
- To promote sustainable practices and lifestyle to future generations.
- To build solid resources.

Slow Food members gather in small, local groups called convivia, a single group of slow food members being a conviviam. The term ‘conviviam’ is Latin for ‘a feast, entertainment, a banquet’, ideas that opitimise the ideals of Slow Food.

Having recently attended a Slow Food event I was exposed to a real sense of community. Food lovers, from grannies to bubbas, inner city to burb dwellers perused stalls representing farms and businesses whose focus lies in good quality, fresh, local produce and unique ideas. A friendly faced, northern Victorian lady sold gourmet puddings with eye bulging flavours such as ‘cranberry and white chocolate’ or ‘brandied peach and cinnamon’. An enthusiastic chap peddled pesto and dukkah, incorporating native Australian greens, while down the road at the monthly farmers market, stall holders were showing off ‘beetroot and orange chutney’ and bio-dynamic rabbit.

Reputable chefs gave demonstrations promoting simple cooking techniques, allowing the ingredients themselves to shine. Toby Puttock of ‘Fifteen’, a restaurant of international fame, whipped up a warm salad of quail eggs, celery leaves, pecorino and white asparagus, all ingredients he stumbled upon at the Prahran market that very morning.

For Australia the Slow Food organisation aims to promote native and local produce, and a diversity of culture and a sustainable future. In Victoria, the government has recently gifted the Abbotsford convent to the public to create an arts, cultural and educational precinct, incorporating accredited produce vendors.

“The precinct will showcase and teach lost techniques in food preparation, handling and selling of secondary produce...With a vision of providing a university type environment, the precinct will incorporate the adjoining Children’s Farm and provide and eco-sustainable model for educating the next generation.”



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